In my fantasy world I'm constructing, there is not a traditional day and night. Rather, magical lights cross the sky. As soon as one sets, another rises. There are three of these lights, each representing the seasons of spring, summer, and fall, with different magical affects on the landscape for each. There is no magical light in the sky at night, and the night represents winter.

I will not go into the details of how these "seasons" work magically, just for our purposes, the necessary information is that they each last for a week or so (though I may lengthen this), making each cycle last a month.

So in summary, we have:

  • 1 week of spring daytime conditions with no night
  • 1 week of summer daytime conditions with no night
  • 1 week of fall daytime conditions with no night
  • 1 week of winter nighttime conditions with no day

All this established, I now ask my question - What kind of adaptations would we expect to see from trees and other flora from this rapid changes in temperature? (And the long stretches of daytime)

For the purposes of this question, we are not focusing on what crazy planetary stuff would need to happen. This is meant to be an alien, impossible fantasy world. We are simply looking at plausible adaptations in an ecosystem

  • $\begingroup$ Much of this is kinda similar to Arctic conditions. Except it is a year cycle not 4 weeks, Biggest issue is frosts/ sudden cold-snaps. But bigger problem is plausible adaptations can fill a book. so please try to reduce scope of question $\endgroup$ Nov 17, 2022 at 2:31
  • $\begingroup$ @GaultDrakkor thing is, I'm not a biologist. I have no idea how to reduce the scope of the question. I just need some general ideas on how to make my fantasy plant life more interesting, but I know that such petitions for help are looked upon with disdain by worldbuilding SE. $\endgroup$ Nov 17, 2022 at 2:44
  • $\begingroup$ Can you describe the actual range of temperature fluctuations, and baseline seasonal temperature for those 4 weeks. Without this the question is far too underspecified to be a good fit for this site. If you want to reduce the scope, try specifying a single environment, rather than an entire planet, try asking about a single event instead of 4, define temperature fluctuations instead of relying on us to determine that on our own. If you want help reducing scope you can use the sandbox to get feedback. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Nov 17, 2022 at 2:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ VTC: This violates the book rule. It would be hard enough to answer for one specific species of plant, much less plants in general. Worse than that, asking how plants on Earth would adapt if planted (I assume) on your magical world has one simple answer: they'd die. On the other hand, plants on your world may live life quickly, living in four weeks what plants on Earth do in 52. Or they may be twisted nightmares of Dr. Seuss. Or something else. Please remember brainstorming is discouraged. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Nov 17, 2022 at 4:01
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    $\begingroup$ @WasatchWind Every moderation action is reversable. We've told you how to correct this post. How about making an edit to the question to correct its deficiencies instead of complaining about people pointing them out to you. If you actually want to extend an olive branch how about learning how we work and following our rules instead of getting frustrated when it does not conform to your expectations. After all some first words of the site tour are "We're a little bit different from other sites." $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Nov 17, 2022 at 9:22

1 Answer 1


How long terrestrial plants can survive without light is dependant on the species and growth stage. Actively growing plants would be most affected, dormant plants would be least affected. Many plants in a state of dormancy and not actively growing could survive a week of no light.

So given the almost endless possibilities in an entirely alien biochemistry, billions of years of evolution and assuming no magical effects, it should be perfectly possible for a plant to survive in such an environment.

Even assuming just the sort of adaptations that we might expect from terrestrial biology. I imagine that plants would simply be able to go into dormancy at short notice. Alternatively or additionally plants might be expected to develop short term energy stores to provide them with chemical energy buffer during darkness to help keep them alive. This could take the form of bulbs or tubers perhaps, although this sort of tissue could be distributed around the plant rather than being concentrated in specialist areas.

So multiple strategies are possible and might even give rise to different groups of plants that specialise (as they do on Earth). So some plants might simply stop growing in the dark, others might seek to continue growth using buffer stores of energy accumulated during the day and still others might make use of chemical energy from decomposition of organic matter instead of or even in addition to photosynthesis.

The temperature range during these seasons would be critical in determining which adaptations would be more likely but in all honesty the variables are so great that nothing can be said with any certainty.


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